John West profits have sunk by 78% as cash-strapped shoppers flocked to discounters and turned to own label to combat inflation.
The tinned fish brand saw revenues slump 13.5% to £128m as it lifted prices to offset spiralling input costs in the year ended 31 December 2022, according to Companies House accounts. It came on top of a 13.6% fall in the previous year, with revenues now £43.6m below the £171.6m 2020 level.
Managing director Paul Stephenson attributed the fall to declining volumes as the ongoing cost-of-living crisis “continues to drive more consumers to discount channels and private label offerings”.
International sales were disrupted by the conflict in Ukraine, with revenues in Europe almost halving from £8.5m to £4.3m.
Margins were also squeezed in 2022 thanks to higher raw materials and commodity costs. Pre-tax profits fell from £9.1m in 2021 to £2m.
However, the company maintained its dividend at £7.7m, slightly below the level in the previous year.
Stephenson said inflation challenges had persisted throughout 2023.
“Consumer demand continues to be price driven, but we have worked hard with our retail partners to minimise these cost increases and have further strengthened our strong brand leadership in the UK in 2023,” he added.
Stephenson said there had been “encouraging” consumer engagement with the brand thanks to its partnership with the GB Paralympics team and supported by further innovations such as its first ‘Plant Power Salads’ offering.
John West repositioned itself as a health and nutrition brand in 2021 with an advertising tagline of ‘Eat strong, go strong’ and the launch of a new range of low-salt and nutrient-enriched tuna variants, ‘super salads’ and on-the-go pots.
“Together with parent company Thai Union, John West also embarked on the next iteration of the group’s sustainability strategy ‘SeaChange 2030’, a $200m sustainability plan to help reshape the seafood industry with solutions for people and planet that better sustain a future for all,” Stephenson added.